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Is Indian Classical Music Dying?

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Is Indian Classical Music Dying?
Is Indian Classical Music Dying?

This has been a topic of discussion in Indian classical music scene for a long time now. Indian classical Musicians are concerned about this notion that Indian classical music is dying and people who practice this art are reducing in number over the years.

It's a myth that has gone into the mind of people that Indian classical music is dying. No. Indian classical music is not dying, one can say that it is “Evolving”. If you look at the bigger picture, Indian music has made a big global impact. Today Indian music has become one of the integral parts of other sub-music genres. It is due to the uniqueness and strong foundation that Indian classical music has such a great influence on global music and it is gaining popularity at a world-wide level. Let’s dive into it deeper to understand what we mean by this and analyse few factors in detail. 

Music is regarded as one of the social activity but Indian music that is classical music is believed to create a spiritual experience, be it Hindustani classical music or Carnatic music. It is during the ancient period that the people of India were impressed by learning music which promoted the growth of spiritual power. This gave rise to what is called classical music in India. Indian classical musicians also believethat it needs lifelong determination and single-minded devotion to get excellent at it. Though this is somewhat true, having a life-long target is one of the major reasons why a beginner is sceptical about learning Indian classical music. Considering the busy schedule of learners nowadays, it is important to break this myth and allow a beginner to understand that learning Indian music is not that tough if your initial goal is to play music and have fun. 

Learning Indian music is just like learning a new language. When you learn new languages you just need to know the basic things i.e. the grammar and vocabulary and then you can start to make your own sentences, same goes learning Indian classical music. In Indian music, once you are well accustomed with the basic notes, you will be made to learn Ragas along with improvising melodies and at the end of the day, you can start playing music and have fun while doing so. Also a beginner must be informed that learning Indian classical instruments like Tabla, Violin or flute have a longer learning curve. This means that a student needs to have patience in begin as it takes a little longer to get accustomed to the playing style. Having simpler, shorter and realistic targets while learning Indian classical music will definitely increase the number of students, willing to learn it. That is exactly what we are trying to achieve with simple and systematic, Graded music learning structure with beAmusician’s Indian classical music courses of Tabla and Violin. Once a student understands the music and sees its implications and expansion at global level, he or she will be more interested in developing the deeper musical roots with a strong foundation by learning the art of playing Indian classical music.

The world is changing at a very high rate. Now it's the time of globalization. People have got a lot more closure due to the evolvement of technology. Different cultures and traditions have come to closure and have influenced each other. Music has seen a great achievement because of it. Today different categories of music from different countries are mixed together to form a new melody.

Because of this globalization, it is seen the Indian classical music has evolved with a unique relationship with the West. It has covered a large region in the West. According to western people, Indian classical music represents an exotic culture. Pt. Ravi Shankar is regarded as the central character for making Indian music popular in the west. His association with George Harrison of ‘The Beatles’ is a well-known one. It is known that ‘The Beatles’ included Sitar and Tabla in some of their songs. The melody of sitar was a portrait by Harrison himself, who acquired the talent from Pt. Ravi Shankar. ‘The Beatles' were regarded as the first globalized entertainer. They sold millions of their records and performed live in many countries. George Harrison describes Ravi Shankar as ‘the godfather of World Music.'

One of the major impact due to the Globalisation is the mingling up of Indian music with Western music in the field of jazz, pop, etc. Jazz musicians like Miles Davis and John Coltrane made several changes in their Jazz version of music. Some of the collaborations include Indian jazz groups, sitar-flavored mass media pop, and sitar and orchestra. Many guitarists like John McLaughlin and Jerry Gracia of the Grateful Dead were attracted by the sound of Indian classical music. Indian music is now known as a significant strand of the cultural fabric of Western musical life.

Nobody ever thought about the fusion of Jazz and Indian Music. Indian music got its birth from temples of India while Jazz music started its journey from jam sessions, night club, black church, and several other fancy places. Today this fusion is of great importance in any kind of live performance. 

Another important musician who played a major role in the globalization of Indian classical music is Zakir Hussain. He is known for the talent of playing a high-quality Tabla. With the help of his father and mentor, Ustad Allaraka, he not only elevated the status of the Instrument in India but also around the world. Some of his contributions are like Shankti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and with other various artists. 

Satyajit Ray who was one of the famous Indian filmmakers also made classical music popular to the world through the medium of films. While the time during the collaboration of Indian and Western music, a new type of fusion music came into existence. Adnan Sami who was the first person to play Indian Classical music on electric piano. 

Several other musicians have also traveled to the West and had either performed there or became instrumental teachers or professors. All of them have immensely worked hard for making Indian Music a popular one. Sarod player Shri Amjad Ali Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, renowned flute player T. Viswanathan are some of the great ones to do so. USA and Europe also offer classes in their universities where students can learn Indian classical music. One example is the very famous The Ali Akbar College of Music (AACM) which was founded in Kolkata, has established its very first US branch in Berkeley, California. 

Indian classical music has been passed down from generation to generation for over 3000 years. It is really a matter of pride for us Indians. Even commercial Bollywood music in India can be seen to have a great influence of classical music in it. Most of the famous Bollywood music composers and directors are classically trained. Mr. Shankar Mahadevan, who has given hits after hits, are classically trained singer. Indian classical music’s influence is not restricted to Bollywood music. DJ Ritviz, a young artist gaining popularity in electronic music scene, has had classical music training in early years of his musical journey and the influence of Indian classical music can be seen in his tracks.

When we influence the global music with our Indian music, its repercussion are bound to be felt the other way too. But this does not mean that Indian classical music is dying. We also have artists who like to keep classical music the way it is or like they call it ‘in the purest form’. This is a perception based on individual’s choice and type of music one likes to hear. If you enjoy Indian music in pure form or fusion form, either way Indian classical music is at win.

It's a myth that has gone into the mind of people that globalization is leading to a decrease in the popularity of Indian classical music. It is due to this globalization because of which Indian music has made a big global impact. Today Indian music has become one of the integral parts of music genres. Musicians who have learnt Indian classical music are carrying it forward. With their experimentation with fusion music they make Indian music more popular and carrying its culture and knowledge at the same time. India has experienced a revolution in music industry in past few years where we have more number of people appreciating the art of Indian classical music than ever before in history of Indian music. It is expected that Indian classical music would gain even further popularity in the coming years. 

So if you want to try your hands in this field and what to learn Indian classical music, we at beAmusician are always there to support you. Start Learning music and beAmusician.